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Hot and dry: The Caribbean island nation of Grenada struggles with drought, heatwaves and fire

An island nation in the eastern of the Caribbean Sea, Grenada is going through the most severe water crisis in the last 14 years.Alarmed by unprecedented low water levels in reservoirs, the Government of Grenada officially declared a water crisis on May 10, 2024, leading to significant water rationing, with stringent restrictions on water usage for non-essential activities.“For the past few months since the heatwave began our dams which are the main source of water have dried up significantly,” says Noreen Cox, a long-time volunteer of the Grenada Red Cross who manages a wide range of disaster preparedness and response challenges. “Ultimately, this led to significant drought conditions and a severe water shortage.”“The water company began using water from its back up source (Grand Etang Lake), however, over time this source also depleted since the water was not being replenished.”In addition to the water crisis, Grenada is currently experiencing a significant heatwave, the most recent being on May 6, 2024, where temperatures have consistently exceeded 31.7 degrees Celsius for several consecutive days.Rising risk of fireThis heatwave has exacerbated the water shortage, increasing the stress on the already limited water resources, and adding to the challenges faced by the population.“Also, due to the heatwave there was an increase in bush fires throughout the island. Grenada is a volcanic island and so the intense heat and presence of sulphur is causing natural fires that are sometimes spread rapidly due to the wind”.People here worry that the severity of the current drought and the structural challenges suggest that the water crisis may persist at least until the peak of the next rainy season, which typically occurs around August or September. Communities across the southern and eastern parts of the island (St. Andrew, St. David and St. George) have been most affected.Recent rains have helped fill reservoirs, however water supplies are still not sufficient to meet needs due to the long-standing drought and conservation methods are still being encouraged.“The people who farm as their livelihood also have a severe strain since the ground is extremely dry and there is a lack of water,”Cox adds. “As such, most of the crops cannot withstand the harsh conditions and die, this ultimately led to a shortage in some of the locally grown fruits and vegetables”.Long-term solutions involving infrastructure improvements, better water management practices, and increased conservation efforts will be crucial in mitigating the impacts and preventing future crises.The IFRC is helping to support the Grenada Red Cross response. Through the IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund (IFRC-DREF), the Grenada Red Cross Society aims to assist at least 1,000 families (5,000 people) with water, sanitation and hygiene support and multipurpose small cash grants.“Water trucks visit different communities at varying times to deliver water to the people,”says Cox, adding that people use water buckets to wash and even water plants.The Grenada Red Cross has also partnered with the National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) to distribute jerry cans, water filters, water drums and other supplies to people in the community as they collected water from water trucks.These tools give people additional storage options for clean water. Meanwhile, Red Cross volunteers educate the public about how to use these tools in ways that best promote water conservation.Heat stressThe Grenada Red Cross is also doing what it can to address the constant stress and anxiety associated with securing daily water needs. The loss of livelihoods due to water shortages exacerbates these stress levels. The National Society is working to creating awareness about mental health issues and offering support for those affected.To address the immediate livelihoods needs, GRCS will conduct a feasibility study to ascertain the functionality of the markets for multipurpose cash transfers to vulnerable households in the affected districts.GRCS will consider other options such as procurement and distribution of relief food (in-kind support). While immediate measures are being taken to address the crisis, the situation in Grenada is expected to remain critical for the foreseeable future.Sustained efforts and humanitarian support will be essential to navigate through this challenging period and build resilience against future water shortages.

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Heatwaves: IFRC Global Heat Summit to tackle the ‘invisible killer’

With heatwaves becoming more frequent and extreme — and claiming more lives — they are increasingly being recognized as one of the deadliest consequences of climate change.A global heat summit hosted by the IFRC on Thursday 28 March (13:30 CET)seeks to raise the alarm about the growing urgency of heatwaves and the threat they pose to human health and well-being.Organized in partnership with USAID, the summit aims to stimulate dialogue and investment around solutions that will save lives and mitigate costs through improved preparedness, early warning, coordination and rapid response, among other things.USAID Administrator Samantha Power and IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain will be joined by leaders from across the globe who are developing innovative solutions to lessen the impacts of extreme heat events. The summit is open to all whoregister for the online live stream. Extreme heat is generally defined as prolonged periods with temperatures above 37 C. But recent heatwaves have far surpassed normal expectations. In Brazil, recently, temperatures in some cities topped 60 Celcius. In parts of North Africa and Southeast Asia, heatwaves routinely reach into the 50s.“Parts ofSouth America and Australia are just emerging from their two hottest summers ever,” notes IFRC Secretary General Jagan Chapagain. “Worldwide, 2023 was the hottest on record -by a huge margin. Half the world’s people – 3.8 billion in fact – simmered under extreme heat for at least one day last year.”“And right now, there’s an unprecedented closure of schools across South Sudan. It’s due not to conflict or economic woes, but an extraordinary surge in temperatures to over 42°C (108°F).”For the IFRC, the Summit will also be the occasion to launch a two-month campaign of action on extreme heat ahead ofHeat Action Day on June 2nd. The campaign will include an online toolkit to help guide people spread knowledge and prepare for the northern hemisphere’s summer season, which for many has already begun.Silent killersHeatwaves are sometimes referred to as ‘silent’ or ‘invisible’ killers because the people who succumb often die in their homes and their deaths may not be initially ecognized as being caused by prolonged heat.However, health authorities and climate scientists are seeing a clear correlation between high temperatures and higher death rates in many parts of the world.Heatwavesacross Europe killed more than 60,000 people in 2022; in theUnited Kingdom, roads melted and almost 3000 died.India sees at least 1,000 deaths a year attributable to extreme heat. In the United States, the number is similar. According to The Lancet,China is on track to see between 20,000 and 80,000 heatwave deaths a year. However, it is widely believed by researchers that these numbers vastly underestimate the real impact of extreme heat.Who is most at risk?Heatwaves can be particularly dangerous for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, young children, people with disabilities, and pregnant women. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease, or respiratory conditions such as asthma are also at elevated risk for suffering health complications due to heatwaves.Additionally, certain populations who spend time outdoors during the hottest parts — agricultural workers, day labourers, road workers and civil servants who work outdoors — are at particularly high risk.People who face housing insecurity, such as people who are homeless and people who live in informal settlements and slums, or who lack access to medical care or places where they can cool down (parks, beaches, cooling stations, air-conditioned spaces, etc.) are also at an increased risk.Urban AreasCities and densely populated areas face a unique challenge in respect to climate change and extreme heat because of their innate urban infrastructure. This phenomenon can be explained by the “urban heat island effect,” in which the construction materials typically used to build urban infrastructures absorb and retain heat more than natural material resources would.This, in conjunction with highly concentrated human activity, informal settlements, dense substructures and populations, and minimal open green spaces, all perpetuate extreme heat.What IFRC is doingBy 2025, the IFRC seeks to help 250 million people become better protected from heat in at least 150 cities and towns. IFRC seeks to do this by enabling climate-smart action to help global communities prepare, respond, and recover from climate disasters.IFRC’s Global Climate Resilience Platform aims to enhance the resilience and build the adaptation skills of 500 million people in the most climate-vulnerable countries. The IFRC’sEarly Warnings for All Initiative aims to provide early warning of extreme weather to everyone on earth by 2027 – this includes extreme heat. And the IFRC regularly raises the alarm through its network of 191 National Societies and via global advocacy and international events such asHeat Action Day on 2 June, 2024.

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Taking action on heat: Getting ahead of extreme heat by taking their message to the streets

In anticipation of the upcoming heatwave season in Lebanon, the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) has embarked on a comprehensive campaign to raise awareness and equip vulnerable people with the knowledge and resources they need to stay safe during extreme heat.The campaign picked up steam on 2 June — Heat Action Day — when LRC volunteers took to the streets, distributing flyers containing preventive measures in numerous communities. They went to construction sites, gas stations, police stations, places of worship, supermarkets and pharmacies. They even left fliers on car windshields.Recognizing the importance of hydration during extreme heat, the LRC also distributed water bottles to residents in targeted communities, prioritizing those most vulnerable to heat-related health risks.The LRC also shared Heat Action Day flyers across its social media platforms, using the hashtag #BeatTheHeat, and encouraging their followers to re-share. The National Society is also actively engaging with the media to disseminate vital information about heatwave preparedness and preventative measures.Beyond heat action dayBut the National Society emphasized that these actions will continue well beyond Heat Action Day, an international day of events aimed at bringing attention to the increasing risk of heat waves.“This initiative is beyond a single action day since as LRC we are actively promoting resilience and anticipation as a core humanitarian call, ensuring our permanent commitment to support communities and vulnerable groups”, said Kassem Chaalan, the Lebanese Red Cross’s Director of Disaster Risk Reduction.Throughout the week just following Heat Action Day, the LRC conducted a massive awareness campaign on heatwaves within the Lebanese Territory. To address the heatwave season, LRC will continue to deliver awareness sessions through October.A global day of actionThe Lebanese Red Cross is just one of many National Societies that joined local and global organizations, private enterprises and individuals around the world to amplify their messages and prevention efforts during Heat Action Day.For many, Heat Action Day is an opportunity to highlight actions they feel compelled to take due to increased number of heatwaves and extreme heat days caused by climate change. These actions are as varied as they are colorful and creative.The Indian Red Cross, for example, used the occasion to put the spotlight on the wide range of work its volunteers do throughout the country, setting up streetside water stations and handing out information about how to stay healthy during a heatwave, among many other activities.The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) co-organized a workshop that centred around ExtremeHeatRisk Study being done in partnership with a leading, Indonesian meteorological society based in Jakarta. It also launched aheat awareness campaign ithat coincided with Car Free Day in the city of Surabaya, encouraging community engagement in various eco-friendly Sunday morning activities, including parades, music and much more.Beyond the Red Cross and Red CrescentMany organizations outside the Red Cross Red Crescent network also got involved.As heat waves swept across mush of the Asia Pacific region, the Asian Development Bank took up the call, issuing statements and sponsoring workshops that promoted heatwave resilience and awareness about "heat stress" and the need for gender-responsive actions.In Dallas, Texas, in the United States, high-school students put together an educational podcast to highlight steps that can be taken to mitigate rising temperatures as part of an environmental architecture class.In Kampala, Uganda, a youth group used football to raise awareness by issuing eco-friendly gifts such as tree seedlings that aim to shift the balance between the number of trees being planted versus the number of trees being cut down.InZanzibar, Tanzania, scuba divers who often entertain tourists do their diving with displays encouraging people to drink more water, check on family members and other small but important preventive measures.And around the world, people created paintings, large outdoor murals and other works of art as part of a global effort to raise awareness through art. These are just a few of the many ways in which people used Heat Action Day to spread the word, share ideas and bring more people to the task of taking action on extreme heat.

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Heat Action Day: Raising the alarm about extreme heat through art

There is no doubt that heatwaves are getting more frequent and more severe — and that heatwaves can kill. They are in fact one of the most deadly climate-related phenomena impacting people around the world today.But they are not getting the attention and action they deserve. Unlike tornadoes, cyclones or floods or storms, they are relatively invisible. They often start gradually and build and the people who die, or who get sick, from them are not always reported as casualties of a heatwave. As the IFRC’s Secretary General recently described it,extreme heat is climate change’s silent assassin.That’s why the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre decided to go beyond words to get the message out during the lead up toHeat Action Day, Sunday, 2 June. Under the theme of urban art for heat action, the Climate Centre invited people to make and share their art on the theme of extreme heat.To help fuel the creative fire, the Climate Centre commisisoned two artists — Andrew Rae and Ruskin Kyle —to render images on the impact of heatwaves on large population centres.An 'alien invasion'The artists knew they needed to create something that would get people’s attention so they chose to tell the heatwaves story like scenes from an epic hollywood film.“We thought of classic apocalyptic films such as Independence Day or Godzilla and so we decided to personify the warming danger as giant marauding robots,” Rae said in a recent interview.Just as humans havehelped to create this monster of extreme heat, the artists created these monsters to make a point about how the world is responding to the rising threat of extreme heat emergencies.“It struck us that if the world being gradually heated up by alien robots or an enemy state, then governments and people would be very quick to act,”he said. “Unfortunately, as we are causing the problem ourselves, it is much harder to mobilize and to make change. Perhaps if we could visualize the problem as an external enemy robot then it might help to motivate us to action.”Staying cool, taking actionThe idea is to keep raising awareness so that governments, city officials, businesses and individuals understand the threat posed by extreme heat, plan for it and act when it hits. Other forms of art being created also help those impacted by heatwaves, many of whom are already in vulnerable situations because they are elderly, lack access to health care, running water, electricity or other means of staying cool during extreme heat.From the streetside walls of Jodphur, India, to the subways and streets of Honduras, people around the world are creating murals, paintings, and photographic images aimed at bringing home the point that people are suffering and this threat needs to be taken seriously.These very varied works of art are hanging in schools, on streetside walls and they are being compiled in an online photo book being shared by the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. New pieces are being added daily as Heat Action Day nears. People are encouraged to submit their own works of art by contacting the Climate Centre through an online form.Many of the artworks submitted to the Climate Centre convey sadness and worry, others express anger or share concrete information about what to do when a heatwave strikes. The art covers every medium, from paint on canvas to marker on paper, photography, digital art — even one piece created by artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, the profiles of the artists involved equally diverse in terms of the background, gender and age of the people creating them.Heatwaves heroesWhile many of the images reflect the harsh reality many communities now face, they also convey a sense of hope, a sense that something can be done. That we still have the chance to be heroes in our own story about heatwaves.Not only can people do things to protect themselves, as shown in the murals in Jodphur India, people can do things to change the narrative and the wider response to climate change and its many repercussions.“It was important to show there are things people can do to fight back against heatwaves,” says Roop Singh, a climate risk adviser with the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. “In one of the art works, a boy carries a backpack with water bottles and fans. Simple things, but because of them, he’s undaunted. The rays coming from him – blue – contrast with the reds and oranges. They symbolize hope.”

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Deadly heatwave in the Sahel and West Africa would have been impossible without human-caused climate change

The recent deadly heatwave in the Sahel and West Africa with temperatures above 45°C would not have been possible without human-caused climate change, according to rapid analysis by an international team of leading climate scientists from theWorld Weather Attributiongroup.In late March and early this April, extreme heat impacted countries in the Sahel and West Africa. The hottest temperature occurred on April 3, when Mali recorded 48.5°C. In Bamako, the Gabriel-Toure Hospital announced a surge in excess deaths, with 102 deaths over the first four days of April.Around half were over the age of 60 and the hospital reports that heat likely played a role in many of the deaths. A lack of data in the countries affected makes it impossible to know how many people were killed, however it’s likely there were hundreds or possibly thousands of other heat-related deaths.“Year-round heat is part of life in the Sahel and regions of West Africa," said Kiswendsida Guigma, Climate Scientist at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre in Burkina Faso. "However, the extreme temperatures were unprecedented in many places and the surge in excess deaths reported by the Gabriel-Toure Hospital in Mali highlighted just how dangerous the heat was.“For some, a heatwave being 1.4 or 1.5°C hotter because of climate change might not sound like a big increase. But this additional heat would have been the difference between life and death for many people.”Climate change, caused by burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas, and other human activities, is making heatwaves more frequent, longer and hotter around the world. To quantify the effect of human-caused warming on the extreme temperatures in the Sahel and West Africa, scientists analysed weather data and climate models to compare how these types of events have changed between today’s climate, with approximately 1.2°C of global warming, and the cooler pre-industrial climate using peer-reviewed methods.The analysis looked at the five-day average of maximum daily temperatures in two areas: one that includes southern regions of Mali and Burkina Faso, where the heat was most extreme, and a larger area including regions of Niger, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea, where temperatures were widely above 40°C.To investigate hot night time temperatures, which can be dangerous when the human body cannot rest and recover, the researchers also analysed the five-day average of minimum temperatures for the Mali and Burkina Faso region.The scientists found that both the daytime and nighttime heatwaves, across both regions, would have been impossible if humans had not warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas, and with other activities like deforestation. Climate change made the maximum temperatures 1.5°C hotter and the nighttime temperatures 2°C hotter for the Burkina Faso and Mali region, and the five-day daytime temperatures for the wider region 1.4°C hotter.A heatwave like the recent one is still relatively rare, even in today’s climate with 1.2°C of warming, the researchers found. Across the wider West Africa region, similarly high daytime temperatures can be expected about once every 30 years. However, daytime temperatures like those experienced in Mali and Burkina Faso, where heat-related fatalities were reported, are expected around once in every 200 years.More common, more dangerousBut events like these will become much more common, and even more dangerous, unless the world moves away from fossil fuels and countries rapidly reduce emissions to net zero. If global warming reaches 2°C, as is expected to occur in the 2040s or 2050s unless emissions are rapidly halted, similar events will occur 10 times more frequently.The researchers also quantified the possible influence of El Niño on the heat, but found that its effect was not significant when compared with the influence of human-caused climate change.The study highlights factors that worsened the impacts of the heat across the region. The heat occurred at the end of Ramadan when many Muslim people fast during the day. The Sahel region has a large Muslim population and while high temperatures are common in April, the researchers say the relentless day and nighttime heat would have been overwhelming for many people who were abstaining from food and water.They also note that conflict, poverty, limited access to safe drinking water, rapid urbanisation and strained health systems likely worsened the impacts.Heat action plans that set out emergency responses to dangerous heat are extremely effective at reducing heat-related deaths during heatwaves. However, neither Burkina Faso or Mali have one in place. Given the increasing risk of dangerous heat in the Sahel and West Africa, the researchers say developing heat action plans will help to save lives and lessen the burden of extreme heat on health systems.Finally, the researchers say the Gabriel-Toure Hospital’s rapid reporting of heat-related deaths was a valuable illustration of the dangers of extreme heat that would have likely acted as an effective warning for people in the region.The study was conducted by 19 researchers as part of the World Weather Attribution group, including scientists from universities, organisations and meteorological agencies in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Switzerland, Sweden, South Africa, The Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.For further information, media may contact:Andrew Thomas, IFRC Senior Media Officer, Media RelationsMob: +41 76 367 6587

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Global Summit announces ‘sprint of action’ to tackle consequences of extreme heat

Summit was co-hosted by the IFRC and USAIDExtreme heat is a silent, yet formidable adversary that – without action – will kill thousands in coming years.But, as participants at the first-ever Global Summit on Extreme Heat heard, there is plenty that can be done. Countering the worst of extreme heat’s impact will take action from the local to global level. The Global Summit on Extreme Heat, held on Thursday, was co-hosted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It brought together political and civil society leaders, representatives of the private sector and those from the world’s most affected communities to discuss best practice and ideas.Besides the co-hosts Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Secretary General and Samantha Power, USAID Administrator, speakers included John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the [US] President for International Climate Policy, His Excellency Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of Djibouti and Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone, among others.The keynote address was delivered by IFRC Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain. He said:“While hurricanes and floods often capture the headlines, extreme heat quietly exacts a toll on lives and livelihoods . . . In 2024 we declare extreme heat a priority . . . Let us be the architects of resilience, the enablers of hope.”Chapagain laid out four key actions that need to take place. The first is protecting the vulnerable, particularly those in urban areas and in marginalised communities. The second is investing in early warning systems and anticipatory actions. The third is forging partnerships across borders, and the fourth is putting local communities in the driving seat of change.Samantha Power, Administrator of USAID, said:“At a time when some have grown numb with increasingly familiar headlines about ‘hottest days on record’, we absolutely need to resolve never to get used to the scale of this problem, never to get used to the threat it poses to human life.” Following the summit, an online ‘Heat Action Hub’ has been established where people can share experiences and best practice when it comes to tackling extreme heat. The IFRC and USAID have jointly announced a 'sprint of action’ on extreme heat which will run up to a ‘Global Day of Action on Extreme Heat’ on June 2, 2024.A recording of the summit can be watched here.For interviews contact:IFRC [email protected] ThomasMobile: +41763676587

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IFRC rolls out full climate action journey after successful National Society trials

The IFRC and its specialist reference centre on climate are today outlining the full seven-stage “climate action journey” that has been trialled by the National Societies of Malawi (blogandstorymap), Nigeria and Pakistan and encompasses the key concepts of climate-smart operations and locally led adaptation.It had earlier been formally presented at a training session in Naivasha, Kenya,attended by representatives of 20 African National Societies, as well as IFRC secretariat and Climate Centre specialists.The climate action journey starts with the key enabling factors of institutional buy-in through signing of the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations, dedicated staff, seed funding, raised awareness, and the mobilization of youth and volunteersThis year, a range of additional National Societies will embark on the journey to scale up climate action and locally led adaptation: they will be able to increase their knowledge on changing climate-risks and impacts, strengthen capacities and partnerships, and access climate finance with solid proposals.The climate crisis has necessitated the empowering of communities to take charge of their own solutions and to secure for local actors and the most vulnerable communities the international climate finance that is currently falling short.This climate action journey seeks to prepare National Societies to increase adaptation driven by communities.Implementation, evaluationA guide to climate-smart programmes– the journey’s first three stages, centring on climate risk assessment, climate-smart screening and climate-smart planning – was published last year in bothlongandsummaryform; the former includes example of climate-smart programmes in various sectors from the Red Cross Red Crescent in (alphabetically) Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mali, Vanuatu and Zambia.The last four stages of the journey – multi-year climate strategy, engagement with communities on adaptation, design of locally-led adaptation programmes, and implementation followed by evaluation – are detailed in the new publication,The importance of scaling up locally led adaptation, which will be expanded later this year.Climate-smart programmes and operations integrate climate and weather information, including long-term climate projections, “to ensure that, at a minimum, they do not place people at increased risk from new climate extremes and … empower communities to anticipate, absorb and adapt to climate shocks and long-term changes,” the journey text says.Locally led adaptation in all its forms, meanwhile, ensures “communities are empowered to lead sustainable and effective adaptation to climate change at the local level, increasing long-term resilience of communities to climate shocks”.Prisca Chisala, Malawi Red Cross Society Director of Programmes and its climate champion, says in her blog that the climate action journey enabled the National Society to “set our institutional vision and priorities on climate for the next few years”.She adds that the journey has been “a living process, able to be adapted whenever new experience and lessons arise. Experiences and thoughts by National Societies are critical to shape this journey into a tool that will be most helpful to the mission and work of Red Cross Red Crescent.“The National Society has to be at the centre of the journey, defining the direction it’s taking.”IFRC Under Secretary General Xavier Castellanos said today: ”This decade demands an unequivocal commitment to locally led adaptation as we confront the escalating climate crisis. Urgency compels us to strengthen local initiatives and empower local actors to spearhead climate resilience.”The climate action journey empowers numerous National Societies to lead the change, forge impactful partnerships, including with local authorities, and foster the emergence of climate-resilient communities.”Most National Societies are already effective in climate-related areas such as preparedness, anticipatory action, response and recovery, generating entry points for more extensive climate programming and integrating climate considerations into their work.But access to international climate finance that reaches down to the local level is another important component of them becoming climate champions for their countries.

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Study: Climate change made the dangerous humid heatwave in West Africa 10 times more likely

Human-caused climate change made the humid heatwave in southern West Africa during February ten times more likely, according toa rapid analysis by an international team of leading climate scientists from theWorld Weather Attribution group.The study also found that if humans do not rapidly move away from fossil fuels, causing global warming to rise to 2°C above preindustrial levels, West Africa will experience similar heatwaves about once every two years. Developing heat action plans will help protect vulnerable people from dangerous heatwaves in West Africa, according to the researchers (which includes researches from the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre).In February, West Africa was hit by an unusually intense humid heatwave with temperatures not normally seen until March or April. The most severe heat occured from February 11-15 with temperatures above 40°C.In Nigeria, doctors reported an increase in patients presenting for heat-related illness, people complained of poor sleep due to hot nights and the national meteorological agency issued several warnings about the heat.In Ghana, the national meteorological agency also warned people to prepare for dangerous temperatures. The heat occurred during the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament in Côte d'Ivoire.“Many people do not appreciate the dangers of heat – unlike storms, fires or droughts, heatwaves don’t leave an evident trail of destruction," said Maja Vahlberg, risk consultant at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, which contributed to the research. “However, heatwaves are ‘silent killers.’ They can be incredibly deadly for the elderly, people with existing health conditions and outdoor workers."“Humidity makes a massive difference to the human experience of heat. While the average air temperature across West Africa during mid-February was about 36°C, the humidity meant it would have felt like 50°C.“Countries across Africa, and the world, need to prepare for heat. Simple measures like awareness campaigns and warning systems can save thousands of lives during heatwaves.”Due to the hot and humid conditions, additional ‘cooling breaks’ were taken during the matches so players could rehydrate. February this year was the hottest February on record globally and the ninth consecutive month in a row that a hottest month record was broken.Climate change, caused by burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal, and deforestation, has made heatwaves more frequent, longer and hotter around the world. To quantify the effect of climate change on the hot and humid temperatures in West Africa, scientists analysed observed weather data and climate models to compare how the event has changed between today’s climate, with approximately 1.2°C of global warming, and the cooler pre-industrial climate, using peer-reviewed methods.For more information, please visit the World Weather Attribution webpage.

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Hope amid the heat: Volunteers like Fatema Khatun help neighbors through sweltering heatwaves in Bangladesh

As the sun blazes mercilessly over Bajakajla Slum in Rajshahi City, Bangladesh, Fatema Khatun vividly remembers her childhood when the weather was different, and life was more comfortable. “When I was in primary school, the temperature was not so high, we had a good life,” she says. “We used to sit by the riverbed and the weather was different. It rained frequently. The temperature was low.” The frequent rains and lower temperatures made playing by the riverbed a joyous pastime. But as time passed, each passing summer seemed hotter and more unbearable. “The average temperature is 42-43 degrees Celsius now,” says 19-year-old Fatema, who lives with her family in a tiny, tin-roofed house. “Sometimes it rises to 45 degrees Celsius. Because of the high temperature, I am facing problems with my eyes. I cannot read correctly.” The heatwaves are particularly hard on the elderly. “I have never seen this kind of heatwave,” says Fatema's 75-year-old grandmother, Shohor Banu Bewa, who feels the impact of the heatwave intensely and struggles to sleep at night. “When the temperature rises, I sit by the riverbed“. Many families, like Fatema's, struggle with itching, rashes, and other heat-related illnesses. And they often lack the resources to cope with the health consequences. “People in our area are poor,” says Fatema. “Most of them work as housekeepers. They face many problems supporting their families and raising children. They cannot provide education, food, and clothes due to poverty.” Hot tin rooves Sayma Khatun Bithi, a community volunteer with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) in Rajshahi adds that the houses are particularly vulnerable to heat. “Those who live in the slum area have their houses made of tin,” says Sayma, who along with Fatema became a volunteer after getting first aid training from BDRCS. “Tin absorbs more heat. The heat has become unbearable for children, the elderly and pregnant women.” To help people living in such vulnerable situations in parts of Rajshahi City, the BDRCS aims to protect residents from the adverse effects of heat waves through a project funded by the European Union, in collaboration with the IFRC, the BDRCS the German Red Cross, and the Danish Red Cross. “The Bangladesh Red Crescent informed us of many things through announcements and radio programs,” says Fatema. “They taught us how to help someone if they fall unconscious due to a heatwave. I listened to the information provided by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society on the radio. I share the information with everyone.” Cooling centers Fatema also got first-aid training from BDRCS and, along with Sayma Khatun Bithi and others, became community volunteers. Abu Md Zubair, a field officer for BDRCS, emphasized the importance of public awareness. His team provided cooling centers, medical facilities, and launched awareness programs, teaching the community how to stay healthy during the heat waves. A community radio program, hosted by Jannatun Nahar Joti, amplified these messages to the entire city. Due to the combined endeavors of people like Fatema Bithi, and organizations like the Red Crescent Society, heat-related illnesses and fatalities began to decrease. Though the heat was unrelenting, people are learning to manage the extreme heat, supporting and caring for each other.

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| Press release

Climate situation wreaks havoc in Asia Pacific; causing relentless floods, diseases, and life-threatening heat

Kuala Lumpur/Dhaka/Beijing, 10 August 2023 – Countries across Asia Pacific are reeling from multiple disasters that are wreaking havoc in the region and climate analysts attribute this to a phenomenon called El Niño. The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges authorities and humanitarian organizations to brace for multiple disasters hitting simultaneously, with more intensity. These past few months, the IFRC has released eight Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) allocations for climate related events – three for dengue to Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, three for floods, to Mongolia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, one for a tropical cyclone to Bangladesh, and one for a cold wave event to Mongolia. Although the full impact of the phenomenon is expected in the months of September this year to March next year, many regions in Asia and the Pacific are already facing multiple hazards now, and they all point to a deteriorating climate situation. In Bangladesh, dengue infections have swarmed the nation and there have been almost 30,000 new cases this year, almost 5 times higher than last year's numbers. Moreover, local public health experts confirm that many people are being infected with multiple types of dengue, making the treatment complicated. Sanjeev Kafley, Head of IFRC Bangladesh Delegation says: "We are working closely with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) and health authorities to combat the situation. In 85 dengue hotspot wards in the cities of Dhaka, Chattogram, and Barishal, our volunteers are focusing on public awareness and prevention efforts. We are progressing to procure testing kits for our health authorities as well as supporting the availability of platelet concentrate through the blood banks of BDRCS. We are supporting in all intervention points, from life-saving areas to preventative measures." IFRC’s climate mitigation efforts at national levels in different countries are towards improving water management systems, curbing mosquito breeding, strengthening surveillance and monitoring systems to track outbreaks and increase health care capacity to managing cases and providing treatment. Olga Dzhumaeva, Head of IFRC East Asia Delegation says: “Torrential rains and floods hit East Asia severely this summer. North, northeast and some regions in southern China saw one of the largest rainfalls Beijing has experienced in the past 140 years. Capital city Ulaanbaatar and 13 provinces in Mongolia, central parts and many provinces of the Republic of Korea, and in the Kyushu region of Japan also suffered from severe impact of extreme rains in July. As a result, millions of people in East Asia were greatly affected and displaced, and roads, bridges, homes, and infrastructures were very badly damaged, many beyond repair. In responding to the situation, our colleagues and volunteers from National Societies in China, Japan, Mongolia and Republic of Korea have been deployed to the front lines, activating their emergency responses, making every effort to evacuate people trapped by the floods and debris, and urgently sending relief supplies such as blankets, tents, folding beds to the affected areas.” IFRC, National Societies, and its partners believe we equally need to focus on resilience building through inclusion of nature, anticipation, adaptation and mitigation. Early or anticipatory action, for example, whereby funds are proactively allocated based on weather forecasts to support people at risk before disaster strikes is an important emphasis in the context of rapidly increasing climate hazards. Luis Rodriguez, IFRC Asia Pacific, Lead for Climate and Resilience says: “These events were more intense than usual due to the prevailing warming conditions, and this brings heavier precipitations, triggering cyclones, rains, and floods. These climate factors also heavily influence the dynamics of infections. Increased rainfall creates new and conducive habitats for larvae or viruses, and increased temperature accelerates the development of insects carrying viruses and virus incubation time. Severe changes in temperature and precipitation patterns due to climate change will enable the spread and transmission of disease in areas that are currently considered low risk or dengue free. These are all not stand-alone events. They are connected.” In anticipation of more extreme weather events that will hit more regions in the Asia Pacific, national societies together with IFRC are carrying out heavy preparedness measures such as heatwave action planning, simulations and drills, prepositioning of relief stocks, and evacuation and rescue equipment, and urgent refreshers on procedures and regulations for volunteers, staff, and technical teams. Moreover, the DREFs ensure National Societies can act speedily and efficiently and this means millions of lives and livelihoods are saved. For more information or to request an interview, please contact:  [email protected] In Kuala Lumpur: Afrhill Rances, [email protected] , +60 19 271 3641 In Geneva: Anna Tuson, [email protected] , +41 79 895 6924

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Together we can #BeatTheHeat

Did you know that heat waves are becoming more frequent, longer, hotter, and deadlier due to climate change? Every year, they put millions of people at risk of heat-related illnesses and claim the lives of thousands of others. But the threats heat waves pose are preventable. And the steps that we can take to protect ourselves, our friends and our families from extreme heat are simple and affordable. Here’s what you need to know about heat waves, what you can do to #BeatTheHeat, and some inspiration from Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. What is a heat wave? A heat wave is an extended period of unusually high temperatures and often high humidity. Exact definitions of a heat wave can vary between countries depending on what temperatures and conditions are normal for the local climate. Heat waves can cause people to suffer from shock, become dehydrated, and develop serious heat illnesses. Heat waves also put people with chronic cardiovascular and respiratory diseases at a high risk. People living in cities and towns tend to be the hardest hit by heat waves because urban areas are generally hotter than the surrounding countryside. What should I do to prepare for a heat wave? We can reliably forecast heat waves in most places, so you usually have time to prepare. Make sure you keep an eye on your local weather forecast and remember the following: Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty Avoid being out in the sun. Find shade or a cool indoor space where possible. Tip: you can use shades or reflective materials on your windows to help keep the heat out of your home. Wear loose, lightweight and light coloured clothing Check on your family, friends and neighbours – particularly if they are elderly or unwell – to make sure they’re okay Eat enough food, ideally smaller and more frequent meals Look out for symptoms of heat-induced sickness - breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, weakness, dizziness or cramps – and seek medical help if needed Watch this short video to learn more or visit our dedicated heat waves page for even more advice. Inspiration from National Societies on how to #BeatTheHeat Last June, in Satmatha, Bangladesh, volunteers from the Bangladesh Red Crescent set up a stage in the heart of the city where they gave creative public performances inspired by heat for Heat Action Day 2022. From poetry to comedy, dance to drama, volunteers performed their hearts out – all in local dialects – to catch people’s attention and teach them all about heat risks. Their performances caused so much of a stir that they made it into national news in print and digital – spreading the word on how to #BeatTheHeat even further! You can watch some clips of their performances here. In the town of Kandi, in West Bengal, India, Indian Red Cross Society volunteers took to the streets last year when temperatures soared. During a severe heat wave that struck the region, they set up purified drinking water points at their branch office, at bus stops, and outside hospitals so that members of the public could rehydrate during the difficult conditions. Making themselves known with big, colourful parasols and giant barrels of water, they brought shade, refreshment and smiles to their local community. In Spain, the Spanish Red Cross has a long history of supporting communities across the country to stay safe during the summer heat. Their volunteers conduct a lot of outreach – through social media, phone calls and street mobilization – to share tips on how people can stay cool. They also check in on older people and people with chronic illnesses who are at particular risk when temperatures rise. And in some regions, volunteers venture out into their communities on really hot days to hand out water, paper fans and caps. Extreme heat doesn’t just put people's health at risk, it can take a big toll on people’s livelihoods, too. In Uruguay this year, prolonged periods of extreme heat and a lack of rain have led to droughts, which are causing huge damage to farming and agriculture. To help communities cope, Uruguayan Red Cross volunteers have been sharing information on how people can protect themselves and their livestock during heat waves. With support from the IFRC’sDisaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF), they’ve also been providing water and sunscreen and are offering cash assistance to families who are most affected. Find out more here. Helpful resources to learn more about heat City heat wave guide for Red Cross and Red Crescent branches Extreme heat: Preparing for the heatwaves of the future – a joint report from the IFRC, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) Heat Toolkit – a collection of posters, social media assets and videos about heat waves produced by the Global Disaster Preparedness Centre

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Climate change made record April temperatures in the Western Mediterranean at least 100 times more likely

Human-caused climate change made the record-breaking heatwave in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Algeria at least 100 times more likely and the heat would have been almost impossible without climate change, according to rapid attribution analysis by an international team of leading climate scientists as part of the World Weather Attribution group. In late April, parts of southwestern Europe and North Africa experienced a massive heatwave that brought extremely high temperatures never previously recorded in the region at this time of the year, with temperatures reaching 36.9-41°C in the four countries. The event broke temperature records by a large margin, against the backdrop of an intense drought. Across the world, climate change has made heatwaves more common, longer and hotter. To quantify the effect of climate change on these high temperatures, scientists analysed weather data and computer model simulations to compare the climate as it is today, after about 1.2°C of global warming since the late 1800s, with the climate of the past, following peer-reviewed methods. The analysis looked at the average of the maximum temperature for three consecutive days in April across southern Spain and Portugal, most of Morocco and the northwest part of Algeria. The researchers found that climate change made the heatwave at least 100 times more likely, with temperatures up to 3.5°C hotter than they would have been without climate change. They calculated that the event is still unusual, even with the large increase in likelihood due to human-caused warming, indicating it would have been almost impossible without climate change. As other analyses of extreme heat in Europe have found, extreme temperatures are increasing faster in the region than climate models have predicted, a question that is currently under intense research. Until overall greenhouse gas emissions are halted, global temperatures will continue to increase and events like these will become more frequent and severe. For example, if global mean temperatures rise an additional 0.8°C, to a total warming of 2°C, models show that a heatwave such as this one would be 1ºC hotter. While people in the Mediterranean are no strangers to high temperatures, their occurrence in Aprilcombined with the ongoing drought likely increased impacts. The study was conducted by 10 researchers as part of the World Weather Attribution group, including scientists from universities and meteorological agencies in France, Morocco, the Netherlands and the UK. Quotes Fatima Driouech, Associate Professor at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, said:“The intense heatwave came on top of a preexisting multi-year drought, exacerbating the lack of water in Western Mediterranean regions and threatening the 2023 crop yield. As the planet warms, these situations will become more frequent and call for long-term planning, including implementing sustainable agricultural models and effective water management policies." Roop Singh, Senior Climate Risk Advisor at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, said:“Early season heatwaves tend to be deadlier as people have not yet prepared their homes or acclimated to summer temperatures. In Spain, for example, we saw heatwave adaptation measures put in place earlier than usual, which is exactly the type of adaptive heat action we need to see more of to reduce preventable deaths from heat.” Friederike Otto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, said:“The Mediterranean is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change in Europe. The region is already experiencing a very intense and long lasting drought and these high temperatures at a time of the year when it should be raining is worsening the situation. Without rapidly stopping the burning of fossil fuels and adaptation towards a hotter, drier climate, losses and damages in the region will continue to rise dramatically. ” Sjoukje Philip, Researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, said: "Temperature records have again been broken by a large margin, as in some other recent heatwaves around the world. The fact that temperature trends in the region are higher than what models predict shows that we need to better understand the regional effects of climate change so that we can adapt to even more extreme heat in the future." -- Click here to access the study. World Weather Attribution (WWA) is an international collaboration that analyses and communicates the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events, such as storms, extreme rainfall, heatwaves, cold spells, and droughts. Previous studies by WWA include research that found that climate change exacerbated floods in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa this year. WWA studies have also shown that this year’s drought in the Northern Hemisphere was made more likely by climate change and that it increased the rainfall that led to Pakistan’s deadly flooding, but that it was not the main driver in Madagascar’s 2021 food crisis.

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Heatwaves account for some of the deadliest disasters and are intensifying, warn the IFRC and the UN humanitarian relief agency ahead of COP27

Geneva, 10 October – Record high temperatures this year—which are fueling catastrophes in Somalia, Pakistan and around the world—foreshadow a future with deadlier, more frequent and more intense heat-related humanitarian emergencies, a new report warns. Released a month ahead of the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27), Extreme Heat: Preparing for the heatwaves of the futuresays that, with climate change making heatwaves ever more dangerous, aggressive steps must be taken now to avert potentially recurrent heat disasters. “As the climate crisis goes unchecked, extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and floods, are hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest,” says Martin Griffiths, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “Nowhere is the impact more brutally felt than in countries already reeling from hunger, conflict and poverty.” The report—the first to be published jointly by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)—offers concrete steps that humanitarians and decision makers can take to mitigate extreme heat’s worst effects. 2022 has already seen communities across North Africa, Australia, Europe, South Asia and the Middle East suffocate under record-high temperatures. Most recently the Western United States and China have buckled under severe heat. The report, notes that, in the coming decades, heatwaves are predicted to meet and exceed human physiological and social limits in regions such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and South and South-West Asia. Extreme heatwaves in these regions, where humanitarian needs are already high, would result in large-scale suffering and loss of life, population movements and further entrenched inequality, the report warns. “The climate crisis is intensifying humanitarian emergencies all around the world. To avert its most devastating impacts, we must invest equally on adaptation and mitigation, particularly in the countries most at risk,” says Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC. “At COP27, we will urge world leaders to ensure that this investment reaches local communities that are on the frontline of the climate crisis. If communities are prepared to anticipate climate risks and equipped to take action, we will prevent extreme weather events from becoming humanitarian disasters.” Heatwaves prey on inequality, with the greatest impacts on isolated and marginalized people. The report stresses that the urgent priority must be large and sustained investments that mitigate climate change and support long-term adaptation for the most vulnerable people. The report also finds that, although the impacts of extreme heat are global, some people are hit harder than others. Vulnerable communities, such as agricultural workers, are being pushed to the front lines while the elderly, children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women are at higher risk of illness and death. The world’s lowest-income countries are already experiencing disproportionate increases in extreme heat. These countries are the least to blame for climate change, but they will see a significant increase in the number of at-risk people in the coming decades. Building on a growing body of knowledge and good practice around early warning, anticipatory action and response systems to heatwaves, the report suggests the following five key steps to help the most vulnerable people: Provide early information on heatwaves to help people and authorities take timely action. Support preparedness and expand anticipatory action, especially by local actors, who are often the first responders in emergencies. Find new and more sustainable ways of financing local action. Adapt humanitarian response to accelerating extreme heat. Humanitarian organizations are already testing approaches such as more thermally appropriate emergency housing, ‘green roofs’, cooling centres and adjustments to school timetables, but this will require significant investments in research and learning. Strengthen engagement across the humanitarian, development and climate spheres. Addressing the impact of extreme heat in the long-term and helping communities, towns, cities and countries adapt to extreme heat risk will require sustained development planning. The full report is available here. Note to editors: Videos and photos are available at this link and this linkfor use by the media. For more information, please contact: IFRC (Geneva): Jenelle Eli, +1-202-603-6803, [email protected] OCHA (New York): Jaspreet Kindra, +1-929-273-8109, [email protected]

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IFRC warns that the growing heatwave in Europe could have tragic consequences

Budapest, 14 July 2022 - Extreme temperatures have spiraled countries into dangerous heat waves and wildfires across Europe. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges cities and communities to prepare to avoid a further disaster. Since May, Europe has been among the fastest “heat wave hot spots” in the world. Forecasts show no sign of abating. Many parts of western Europe are experiencing extreme temperatures and countries like Portugal are battling raging wildfires, impacting thousands of people. “With the climate crisis, this heat is part of our ‘new normal’,” says Maarten Aalst van, Director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. “These deadly events are now more frequent and more intense.” In the past ten years, climate- and weather-related disasters have killed more than 400,000 people, affected 1.7 billion others and displaced an average of 25 million people each year world-wide.The people most at risk of heat waves include older people, children, pregnant women, and those with pre-existing health conditions. Heat waves have cascading impacts in other areas of society, such as reduced economic output, strained health systems and rolling power outages. Staff and volunteers from National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across the region are supporting communities preparing for and impacted by the heat waves. At the same time, teams are responding to the devastating wildfires most notably in Portugal, but also Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Turkey brought on by the extreme heat. “Many have had to evacuate their homes with the few things they can carry," saysAna Jorge, President of the Portuguese Red Cross."Our medical teams are focused on ensuring people are getting to safety, providing critical health care to those suffering from burns and other injuries and providing them with a bed to sleep in and the necessities as they decide their next steps.” With heat waves becoming more likely around the world as the climate crisis worsens, more preparedness and early warning systems are required to reduce and manage the risks. “People are not always aware of the dangers of heat. But when communities understand the risks and take simple measures to prepare for it, they can prevent unnecessary tragedies,” says van Aalst. “We urge cities and communities to prepare and take the necessary steps to save lives, now and in the long term.” For more information and to arrange an interview: In Budapest: Corrie Butler,[email protected]+36 704306506 In Athens: Georgia Trismpioti, [email protected] +30 6971809031 Note to Editors: IFRC’s Heat Wave Guide for Citiesand Urban Action Kitare resources for city officials, urban planners and community organizations to anticipate and plan for extreme urban heat and reduce deadly risks. C40’s Urban Cooling Toolboxprovides approaches to lower urban temperatures and reduce the impact of the urban heat effect; the Heat Resilient Cities Benefit Toolhelps city planners and decision-makers quantify the health, economic and environmental benefits of adaptation actions. A heat wave is an extended period of unusually high temperatures and often high humidity. Extreme heat can cause shock, dehydration and other acute illnesses, and worsen cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. There is now a mountain of evidence that climate change is increasing the occurrence of deadly heat waves. For instance, scientists have concluded that climate change has made the 2022 heat wave in India and Pakistan 30 times more likely, the 2019 heat wave in western Europe at least 10 times more likely, the 2019-20 heat wave in Australia that contributed to the devastating bushfires 10 times more likely, and that the extreme heat in the northwest US and Canada in 2021 would have been virtually impossible without climate change. For details, see for instance, the World Weather Attribution analyses.

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IFRC and C40 Cities urge cities to prepare for more dangerous and deadly heat waves

14 June 2022, Geneva, New York—Heat waves are becoming more frequent, longer, hotter and deadlier, especially in urban areas, but the threats they pose are preventable if cities and residents are prepared for extreme heat and take steps to save lives. The past seven years, from 2015 to 2021, have been the hottest on record and this year is already a punishing one. The life-threatening temperature spikes seen in recent months across India, Pakistan, East Asia and southern Europe and this week’s unusually intense, early-season heat wave gripping parts of the United States are an ominous sign of what is to come as the world gets warmer. Every year, increasingly scorching temperatures put millions of people at risk of heat-related illnesses and claim the lives of thousands of others. People living in cities are hardest hit because urban areas are warmer than the surrounding countryside and are getting hotter due to climate change. Those most at risk are already vulnerable—the elderly and isolated, infants, pregnant women, those with pre-existing ailments and the urban poor, who often work outdoors or live and work in buildings without air conditioning or adequate ventilation. But deaths from heat waves are not inevitable. Five billion people live in places that are prone to heat waves and where early warning systems can predict them before they happen. “Heat waves are the silent killers of climate change, but they don’t have to be,” says Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “Most heat waves are forecast days or weeks in advance, giving ample time to act early and inform and protect the most vulnerable. The good news is that there are simple and low-cost actions authorities can take to prevent unnecessary deaths from heat.” Ahead of the summer season in many parts of the world, IFRC is launching its first global Heat Action Day, today, 14 June—mobilizing branches and partners in over 50 cities to hold awareness-raising events about ways to reduce severe impacts of extreme heat. The IFRC is also partnering with C40 Cities to call on city officials, urban planners, and city residents in every region of the world to prepare for more dangerous and deadly heat waves. “Cities that are used to hot weather need to prepare for even longer periods of sweltering heat and cooler cities need to prepare for levels of extreme heat that they are not accustomed to,” says Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities. “From Miami to Mumbai and Athens to Abidjan, mayors in our network are increasing green spaces, expanding cool roof programmes and collaborating on heat actions to improve resilience to rising urban heat. But far more work is needed to reduce andmanage risks as the climate crisis worsens.” TheC40 Cool Cities Networksupports cities to embed heat risk and management in their climate action plans, develop heat resilience studies, and develop, fine-tune and measure impacts of heat mitigation action, including cooling, greening and emergency management.The network has held intensive workshops on urban heat and equity, developed resources to guide heat action plans and, over the past two years, supported cities in managing the compound crises of extreme heat alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on outreach to vulnerable populations. Across the globe, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are rising to the extreme heat challenge—supporting and improving local and national heat action plans, spreading messages to the public on heat safety, checking in on the most vulnerable, distributing water, supporting medical services, identifying and setting up cooling centres, and even helping people retrofit their homes to improve shade and reduce heat. They’re also expanding research on heat to parts of Africa, Asia and South America that have been overlooked in the past. “The climate crisis is driving and intensifying humanitarian crisis in every region of the world,” says Rocca. “But when cities and communities are better prepared, extreme weather doesn’t have to become a disaster or a tragedy.” Note to Editors: IFRC’s “Heat Wave Guide for Cities” and “Urban Action Kit” are resources for city officials, urban planners and community organizations to anticipate and plan for extreme urban heat and reduce deadly risks. C40’s “Urban Cooling Toolbox” provides approaches to lower urban temperatures and reduce the impact of the urban heat effect; the “Heat Resilient Cities Benefit Tool” helps city planners and decision-makers quantify the health, economic and environmental benefits of adaptation actions. A heat wave is an extended period of unusually high temperatures and often high humidity. Extreme heat can cause shock, dehydration and other acute illnesses, and worsen cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. There is now a mountain of evidence that climate change is increasing the occurrence of deadly heat waves. Scientists have concluded that climate change has made the 2022 heat wave in India and Pakistan 30 times more likely, the 2019 heat wave in western Europe 100 times more likely and the 2019-20 heat wave in Australia 10 times more likely. Images and Video for use by media outlets: Follow thisTwitter thread to access videos and photos of global Heat Action Day events. Heat emergency response images can be accessedhere For more information or 1:1 interviews, contact: IFRC: Melissa Winkler, [email protected], +41 76 2400 324 IFRC: Tommaso Della Longa, [email protected], +41 79 708 43 67 C40 Cities: Rolf Rosenkranz, [email protected] IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives, build community resilience, strengthen localization and promote dignity around the world.www.ifrc.org - Facebook-Twitter-YouTube C40 Citiesis a network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities who are working to deliver the urgent action needed right now to confront the climate crisis and create a future where everyone, everywhere can thrive. Mayors of C40 cities are committed to using a science-based and people-focused approach to help the world limit global heating to 1.5°C and build healthy, equitable and resilient communities.www.C40.org-Twitter-Instagram-Facebook-LinkedIn

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Heat Action Day

Climate change is turning up the heat around the world. But together, we can #BeatTheHeat! Heat Action Day on 2 June is a global day for raising awareness of heat risks and sharing simple ways to #BeatTheHeat.

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Heat waves

A heat wave is an extended period of unusually high temperatures and often high humidity.They are expected to become more frequent and more severe in future due to climate change. People affected by heat waves cansufferfrom shock, becomedehydrated and developserious heat illnesses. Heat waves can also worsenchronic cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

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Hundreds of Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers responding to wildfires across Europe

Ankara/Budapest/Geneva, 2 August 2021 – Volunteers from Greece, Italy, Russia, Spain, and Turkey are responding to several wildfires raging across Europe. Scorching temperatures, high winds and tinder dry conditions have forced rescues by sea and land, with thousands of people fleeing for their lives with just the clothes on their backs. In southern Turkey eight people have died and scores are injured. Hundreds of animals have been killed and countless homes lost in the worst hit areas of Antalya and Bodrum. More than 2,000 Turkish Red Crescent staff and volunteers are on the ground. Shafiquzzaman Rabbani, Acting Head of Turkey delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said: “We are very concerned at this week’s weather forecast, with temperatures tipped to reach as high as 40 degrees Celsius in Antalya today. Teams of Turkish Red Crescent volunteers and staff are doing everything they can to assist those affected.” Turkish Red Crescent is providing food through its mobile kitchens, distributing water and hygiene kits, and providing shelter and psychosocial support to firefighters and affected communities. In Greece, Hellenic Red Cross rescuers and lifeguards have been evacuating trapped people by boat from the settlements of Kamares, Longos and Platiri. Earlier in the week they were helping the fire brigade quell a fire in Patras. Extreme temperatures forecast for this week have teams on high alert. Italian Red Cross has been assisting with evacuations in Sardinia and distributing water and food. They have delivered animal feed to farmers as fires continued over the weekend. More than 800 flare-ups were recorded this weekend, mainly in the south, and firefighters continue to flight blazes in Sicily. Spanish Red Cross volunteers have also been busy this weekend assisting at a fire at San Juan reservoir, 70km from Madrid, and 25 Russian Red Cross volunteers are still at the scene of a fire in Karelia, distributing food, water, bedding, hygiene kits and personal protective equipment to people affected. IFRC Europe’s acting head of Disaster, Climate and Crises Antoine Belair said the increasing number of wildfires year on year across the Mediterranean is linked to climate change causing more extreme weather conditions, including lower rainfall and higher temperatures. “Extreme weather conditions exacerbate risks of these events. Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies remain on high alert, providing support to affected populations, in close coordination with national authorities and firefighter teams,” he said. Footnote: Advice on how to prepare for a forest fire can be viewed here. For more information, please contact: In Ankara: Elif Isik, +90 539 857 5197, [email protected] In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected] In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71, [email protected]

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IFRC warns human-caused climate change made record-breaking heatwave 150 times more likely, putting lives at risk

Geneva, 8 July 2021 - Recent rocketing temperatures are having a severe impact on millions of people and putting lives at risk, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned. Last week’s record-breaking heatwave in parts of the US and Canada, would have been virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused climate change. This is according to a rapid attribution analysis[1] by an international team of leading climate scientists and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. The analysis found that climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, made the heatwave at least 150 times more likely to happen. IFRC President Francesco Rocca said:“Right now, we are witnessing heat records topple as temperatures rise, with terrifying consequences for millions of people around the world. “We are responding on the ground, and thanks to our investment in anticipatory action, we are able to better prepare for these crises.” From wildfires and drought to heat exhaustion and serious heat-related health risks, communities across the globe are struggling to cope with the increased temperatures and frequency of heatwaves. “The Red Cross and Red Crescent network cannot combat the devastating impact of the climate crisis alone,” added Rocca. “There must be a concerted global effort to deal with the climate emergency, which represents the biggest threat to the future of the planet and its people.” National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are working with those hit hardest by the current heatwaves and those who are most at risk from soaring temperatures - including older people, homeless people, people with COVID-19 and underlying health conditions, those living in isolated areas, and refugees and migrants. The Head of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, Maarten van Aalst, said: "Heatwaves topped the global charts of deadliest disasters in both 2019 and 2020. Here we have another terrible example - sadly no longer a surprise but part of a very worrying global trend. Many of these deaths can be prevented by adaptation to the hotter heatwaves that we are confronting in the Americas and around the world.” In the US, American Red Cross teams are working in cooling centres and shelters to support people escaping the dangerous heatwaves, while the Canadian Red Cross is on hand to work with emergency services to respond to deadly wildfires. In Europe, Red Cross volunteers are providing health and social care support to older and vulnerable people put in danger by the scorching temperatures. In Pakistan this year, some of the hottest temperatures on record have scorched areas of Sindh province and Pakistan Red Crescent health teams have been helping people, including bike riders and others exposed to extreme heat as they are compelled to work outside earning daily wages. In Afghanistan, the Afghan Red Crescent and the IFRC are working together to provide urgent cash and food assistance for more than 210,000 people, as one of the worst droughts in decades threatens the food and water supplies. In the Middle East, Red Crescent Societies, including those in Iran, Iraq and Syria, have been responding to the drought affecting the lives of millions of people. In Saudi Arabia, the Red Crescent has organized a nationwide campaign on mitigating the health hazards caused by the temperatures climbing up to 50C. As the number of climate-related emergencies increase globally each year,the IFRC and its National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are increasing their support to the most vulnerable communities around the world. In 2020, 75 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies received nearly 37 million dollars to support 109 emergency operations - the majority of which were floods and cyclones in the Asia Pacific region and Africa. [1] Link will be live from 00.01am CET 8 July 2021

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| Press release

Red Cross Red Crescent sounds the alarm over deadly combination of heat and COVID-19

Budapest/Geneva, 18 June 2021 – A looming heatwave in parts of Europe poses a deadly threat to the most vulnerable in our society, and action is urgently needed to protect them, said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). According to European meteorological offices, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Sweden can expect temperatures above 30°C this weekend. In Berlin, they may climb up to 35°C, which is 13°C higher than the average in this time of year. Dr Davron Mukhamadiev, IFRC Regional Health and Care Coordinator for Europe, said: “The double risk of heat and COVID-19 will be particularly dangerous for our most vulnerable – homeless, migrants, older people, pregnant women and those with chronic conditions. As temperatures soar, these people are at heightened risk. It is crucial for governments and civil society to increase support for them. Lives are at stake.” Heatwaves are the deadliest type of disaster in the Europe region. Increasingly common, they can aggravate pre-existing conditions and cause serious health problems. According to the latest edition of IFRC’s World Disasters Report, published in November, three heatwaves affecting Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom in 2019 caused more than 3,400 deaths. In 2020, risks associated with these extreme weather events were compounded by COVID-19. While there is a perception that we are at the beginning of the end of the pandemic, every day in Europe more than 52,000 new COVID-19 casesare detected and 1,200 people die on average. Dr Mukhamadiev highlighted that IFRC is supporting National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across Europe to expand their services during the warmest months, including providing first aid, helping people access health services and checking in on isolated and at-risk people. “French Red Cross is assisting the homeless, while Belgian Red Cross is vaccinating people living in the streets or in informal settlements as well as undocumented migrants. Austrian Red Cross is opening up cooling centres in cities, and the Netherlands Red Cross is visiting thousands of older people to share life-saving tips about staying cool and safe,” he explained. Experts are also concerned that as lockdowns ease and people grow tired of wearing masks in the heat, many will become infected and contaminate others. This, along with holiday travel, could lead to a new deadly wave across the region in autumn, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) “We cannot let our guard down. Staying cautious and following preventive measures on COVID-19 and heatwaves is more important than ever. Otherwise, health systems could again be overwhelmed and a spike in deaths may follow,” underlined Dr Mukhamadiev.

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| Press release

Red Cross calls on people to check on neighbours and loved ones during dangerous heatwave

Budapest/Geneva, 29 July 2020 – As temperatures soar across Europe, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on the public to check on neighbours and loved ones who might struggle to cope with the searing heat. According to European meteorological offices, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Romania can expect temperatures in the mid to high 30s during the week., with Paris and Madrid forecast to reach around 40°C on Friday. To prevent loss of life, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is urging people to check in on their vulnerable neighbours, relatives and friends while following COVID-19 safety measures. IFRC’s acting health coordinator for Europe, Dr Aneta Trgachevska, said: “Some older people are unable to spend on things like air conditioning. They may be socially isolated. When coupled with thermoregulation problems, reduced water intake and physical ability and chronic diseases, there could potentially be a large at-risk group.” IFRC is also concerned about the potential compounding impact of COVID-19 during this period of soaring temperatures, said Dr Trgachevska: “Managing the impact of heat and COVID-19 at the same time poses a challenge to frontline workers, health care systems and local communities. The spread of COVID-19 will not stop in summer. On the contrary, it increases the risk of extreme heat by compromising our usual coping strategies.” People who would usually visit public places like parks, libraries and shopping malls to find refuge from the heat may be reluctant to leave their homes due to fear of infection. For the same reason, some may be afraid to seek medical care for heat stroke. “While self-isolation is advisable for vulnerable people during a pandemic, during a heatwave it could be life-threatening, especially for people living alone without home cooling systems. To make sure our loved ones and neighbours stay safe, we should check on them daily via phone or video calls. If you need to physically help someone, make sure to follow hygiene rules, such as wearing a mask and washing your hands upon entering someone’s home,” explains Dr. Trgachevska. People who are most vulnerable to heat stress are also those most at risk of COVID-19, including people older than 65, pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions, prisoners and marginalized groups such as homeless people and migrants. Due to the pandemic, health workers and first responders are also more prone to heat stress as they need to wear personal protective equipment. Across Europe, Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff are on high alert to support communities during summer. The Austrian Red Cross operates cooling centres in malls. It also has a mobile app to help people stay safe with a real time heat map and list of cool public places. In Spain, Red Cross volunteers are helping people with disabilities to enjoy a dip in the sea. In Monaco, volunteers are regularly checking in on isolated older people via daily phone calls or physically distanced home visits, and in the Netherlands, they go door-to-door to distribute life-saving information. In several other countries, including Italy and the UK, Red Cross teams are reaching out to vulnerable groups to inform them on how to stay protected from both the heat and COVID-19. Heatwaves can have a catastrophic human toll. In 2003 an estimated 70,000 people died during a record-breaking heatwave in Europe. Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of heatwaves globally. Some tips to stay cool and safe: Close drapes and shutters during the hottest parts of the day to reduce direct sun exposure When it’s cooler outside, open windows on opposite sides of the building to create a cross-breeze Avoid cooking food indoors during the hottest hours of the day Unplug large electronic devices that produce heat Use an electric fan and set a bowl of cold water or ice in front to create a cold breeze Wear lightweight, light-coloured and loose-fitting clothes Avoid exercise and strenuous activities during the hottest hours of the day Drink plenty of cool water, avoid alcohol and caffeine Some medicines may reduce tolerance to heat. Get medical advice if you are suffering from a chronic medical condition or taking multiple medications. Stay connected, listen to the weather forecast and adapt your plans if necessary Follow social distancing guidance when using shared outdoor spaces such as parks and beaches Ask for medical help in case of signs of heat-related illness. Download the heatwave guide developed by the Red Cross Red Crescent climate centre

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| Press release

MEDIA ADVISORY: Europe heatwave - Red Cross experts available

Geneva, 22 July 2019 – Red Cross climate experts are available to discuss the potential humanitarian impact of this week’s European heatwave, as well as the simple and affordable steps that can be taken to protect lives. Temperatures are expected to climb to record levels over the coming days, placing huge pressure on health and social welfare systems across the continent, and potentially threatening the lives and well-being of vulnerable people. Red Cross experts can highlight some of the concrete measures that individuals and authorities can take to reduce the potential humanitarian impact of the heatwave. They can also discuss the clear links between climate change and heatwaves and share findings from the Red Cross’ recently released Heatwave Guide for Cities. Available experts include: In New York: Julie Arrighi, Red Cross climate expert and one of the authors of the Heatwave Guide for Cities. In Geneva: Tessa Kelly, Climate Change Coordinator, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

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| Press release

Red Cross urges public to check on neighbours as Europe braces for heatwave

Budapest/Geneva, 25 June 2019 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on people to check on vulnerable neighbours, relatives and friends as Western Europe readies itself for possible record high temperatures. According to European meteorological offices, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Hungary and Switzerland can expect temperatures in the mid to high-30s during the week, with temperatures potentially climbing to 40°C in Paris on Thursday (27 June). IFRC’s Europe Region health coordinator Dr Davron Mukhamadiev said: “The coming days will be challenging for a lot of people, but especially older people, young children, and people with underlying illnesses or limited mobility. “Our message this week is simple: look after yourself, your family and your neighbours. A phone call or a knock on the door could save a life.” Across Western Europe, Red Cross staff and volunteers are on high alert. In France, volunteers are patrolling the streets, providing water and hygiene kits and visiting isolated and older people in their homes. “If necessary, the emergency operations centre at our headquarters can be opened to coordinate the response to this emergency,” said French Red Cross spokesperson Alain Rissetto. In Spain, 50 staff in the Red Cross operations centre are currently calling vulnerable and older people to check they are safe and to give advice on how to cope with the heat. And in Belgium volunteers are distributing water and checking on older community members. Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of heat extremes globally, underscoring the urgent need to manage heatwave risks effectively and to prevent avoidable strain being put on already stretched health care services. The risks are particularly high in cities, where the impacts can be most severe. Heatwaves can have a catastrophic human toll. In 2003, for example, an estimated 70,000 people died during a record-breaking heatwave in Europe. Next month, IFRC and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre will launch new guidelines designed to help cities better support their vulnerable residents during heatwaves.

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| Press release

IPCC report: Climate change already making humanitarian work harder, less predictable, more complex, says IFRC

Geneva, 8 October 2018 –Climate change is already making emergency response efforts around the world more difficult, more unpredictable and more complex, according to the world’s largest humanitarian network. This warning from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) coincides with the launch of a UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) report that sets out the predicted impacts of both a 1.5°C and a 2.0°C rise in the global average temperature by 2099. IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “More than half of our operations are now in direct response to weather-related events, and many others are compounded by climate shocks and stresses. If this is the situation now, then it is difficult to comprehend the scale of crises confronting vulnerable communities in a world that is 1.5°C or 2.0°C hotter.” In 2017, IFRC and the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network responded to over 110 emergencies, reaching more than 8 million people. More than half of these were in response to weather-related events. National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are also bearing witness to rising climate displacement. Weather-related events displaced 23.5 million people in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Mr Rocca said: “In a 1.5°C-warmer world, more extreme-weather events will affect everyone. But it will be especially cruel for communities that are already struggling to survive because of conflict, insecurity or poverty. “We are already working with some of these communities to help them anticipate and adapt to what might be to come. These efforts need to increase significantly. A higher proportion of global climate finance needs to be dedicated to helping these communities adapt to changing risks. Currently, not event 10 per cent of funding does this.” Dr Maarten van Aalst, a climate scientist and director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre based in The Hague, added: “Climate remains at the centre of the international agenda. In 2018, we have seen lethal heatwaves and wildfires across the Northern Hemisphere, including in unexpected places like eastern Canada, Japan and Sweden. A rapid analysis in July by an international group of climate scientists showed that in some European locations climate change made the heatwave at least twice as likely.” Today’s IPCC report sets the scene for COP 24 which opens in Katowice, Poland on 3 December. Mr Rocca said: “COP 24 must deliver a rigorous rule book for how to implement the Paris Agreement. No one can afford half measures; our future existence depends upon it. “IFRC welcomes this IPCC report. We hope this leads to action. Millions of lives – and billions of dollars of disaster response – are at stake.”

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